By Ryan Frederick from Fierce Marriage
A little while ago I wrote about the first thing we’d discuss with you if we could have coffee together. Feel free to read that post if you haven’t, but basically we’d talk about your beliefs. Namely, your belief in the person and work of Jesus Christ and what that means for your marriage.
This blog post would be the second conversation we’d have with you.
5 Habits for a Healthy Marriage
Fight for your marriage like everything is at stake, because it is.
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Let’s get tangible. What habits can you build into your lives that will build your marriage?
Disclaimer: this post is written for Selena and myself as much as anyone else… we don’t have it figured out (not even close). With that, let’s give it a shot:
Habit 1: Talk about important things
It’s one thing for us to say “communicate daily”. Thanks Captain Obvious…
Small talk is fine. Playful joking is fun! Scheduling and task-related talks are crucial. However, if you never consciously build emotional & spiritual intimacy, you risk creating a shallow communication culture in your household.
Communicating about deeper things intentionally will build honesty and vulnerability that is endearing, edifying, and strengthening.
This is largely up to you, but Selena and I have found two things that work well for us.
- High/Lows: It’s basic. Just discuss the best part of your day, then the worst part of your day. How did you feel when each happened? Why is it the best/worst part? These questions make a great dinner-time conversation starter, and kids can participate too.
- Devotions – we ask questions about what we’re reading in Scripture and praying about. Discuss the things of God together–His truths. This will deepen your walk with Him and your relationship with your spouse.
Habit 2: Pray for each other, out loud, together.
Healthy marriage isn’t always easy but it’s well worth fighting for.
We definitely encourage couples to pray together. But sometimes the default is to pray about things that are “outside” of the marriage. What I’m suggesting here is much different.
Pray for your spouse, out loud, face-to-face, and holding hands. Pray for their health, concerns, peace, wisdom, etc. It’s biblical and God is faithful to show up and soften hearts when we gather in His name. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” That’s truth.
We wrote a few posts that may help you if you’re wondering where to begin:
Habit 3: Plan for intimacy & dating
Life gets busy, nothing new. Nothing indicates your priorities better than your schedule. Make sure your spouse is truly a priority by making time for them on your calendar. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you stop dating each other and being romantic.
Quality time: no shortcuts, no substitutes
Selena and I have found the following to be helpful in our marriage:
- Make daily time for each other. We spend every morning together. I usually wake up first, start my devotions, and she comes out about when I’m finishing up. We have coffee together, sit, and talk. I usually share what I read and we discuss what we’re doing that day.
- Agree on the frequency of sex needed to keep you intimate. We both know that for us to be healthy we need to be physically intimate every 3 days or so. This serves a physiological need (I’m a guy after all!), but it also keeps us connected in a way that is unique only to marriage and only to sexual intimacy.
- Schedule date nights. Hire a babysitter and go out on a date. Just be a couple in love. And make sure to do this at least a few times a month.
Habit 4: Live beneath your means
Finances are one of the biggest problem areas for marriages. This isn’t because money itself is problematic, but rather because of how it’s managed.
Overspending is a huge problem in our culture, and consumer debt is out of control. We must be good stewards of our finances, according to God’s principles, or risk causing disorder and chaos in this area of our lives and marriages.
Create habits of living beneath your means by discussing what your budget is and how purchasing decisions will be made. Here are some tangible ideas:
- Agree. Seek agreement on what’s most important so you can filter out unwise purchases.
- Use cash. Credit card spending can cause trouble, so if you use them, make sure you can zero out your balance each month. If you know overspending is a problem, it’s wise to cut up the credit cards (we did).
- Reduce expenses. If you’re perpetually short on money and you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, something has to change. Consider what you can trim out of your budget (expensive car? cable TV?)
- Always tithe. Tithing is more about your heart than your money. When you tithe, you’re saying that you trust God more than you trust money, your job, or your ability to earn income. God loves you and He loves to care for his kids. Tithing is tangible evidence that you actually believe that truth.
Remember Matthew 6:26: Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Habit 5: Serve others together
We strongly believe that your marriage is your ministry. You serve and honor each other as spouses, and together you can extend that ministry to your community. In all instances of Christ-like love, Christ is glorified. This is our ultimate purpose as humans: to glorify God.
A happy marriage is good, but it’s more about holiness than happiness.
Serving together is an incredibly valuable habit since it will consistently remind you that your core purpose is to bring God glory, not yourself happiness. (Happiness is good, just not as our primary goal.)
The possibilities for serving are vast, here are some suggestions:
- Serve in your local church. You may not serve on the same team, but you can serve at the same times. Plus, the Church is God’s plan A for reaching the lost.
- Serve your community. Serve the poor, orphans, and widows in your community. Homeless shelters, assisted living homes, and other organizations are all in need of consistent, engaged, help. Maybe that’s you?
- Open your home. Consider inviting couples over who are going through a tough time. Make a meal, talk, and just be friends to them.
Theme: Be Intentional
While this list isn’t exhaustive by any means, I do believe these 5 habits will help keep your marriage healthy. In all cases, the core idea is that we must be intentional in the important areas of life. Whatever we neglect will surely die or be overcome with chaos.
Friends, be intentional in your marriage! Build each other up in Christ-like love, use wisdom, and in all cases, Glorify God.